Well, keep reading my little caterpillars, because I am about to show you the path to becoming a beautiful, couponing butterfly.
The first step is GETTING coupons. But where?
A solid 80% of manufacturer coupons are in the Sunday newspaper. So if you do nothing else, BUY THE SUNDAY PAPER. You will get the weekly inserts from RedPlum and SmartSource, as well as a monthly Proctor and Gamble (PG) insert full of coupons for their products good through that month. Coupons and inserts vary by region, so if you, friends or family members go on vacation, have them bring you a Sunday paper! The bigger the city that the paper comes from, the better the coupons will be, I guarantee it. Also, find out if double coupons are offered in the Sunday paper in your area. Here in Atlanta, you can get double coupons in the Sunday AJC at the store for just $1 extra.
Don't forget about the monthly All You magazine exclusively sold at Walmart for $2.50, May issue is currently on rollback for $1.88!
There are also coupon websites for internet printable coupons (IP). These websites include Redplum, SmartSource and Coupons.com. Most of these coupons are identical to a manufacturer coupon found in a newspaper insert, so these are great for obtaining extra copies to use for stocking up when the perfect sale presents itself.
Don't forget about the eCoupons from Kroger, ShortCuts, Cellfire and Savingstar to name a few, which are manufacturer coupons loaded to your store card.
Store coupons are found in a variety of places. The most common places to find these are in coupon books in the store, in the weekly circular and in home mailers.
Don't forget to look for coupons attached to products, included in samples and the SmartSource coupon dispensers located throughout the store.
Signing up for product websites is also a GREAT way to get coupons, but that'll wait for another post later on.
"That's a lot of coupons, what do I do with them?"
I'm glad you asked. Let's discuss coupon organization.
There are three main ways to organize your coupons - a standard coupon organizer, an expandable file and a coupon binder. Let's discuss each of these methods.
First up, the coupon organizer
There's a lot to be said for this little guy. He's purse sized and portable and inexpensive. You organize your coupons by categories of your choosing (I prefer by store department). Every week, you cut your coupons and sort them by category into your coupon organizer. When I used this method alone, I always kept this in my purse, that way I would never miss a deal. There is a space in front of the first divider that is perfect for keeping the coupons you plan to use on your next shopping trip, as well as a pen and a copy of your shopping list/coupon matchups. The main problem I had was once I got a little more "hardcore" about my couponing, my coupons outgrew my organizer. You can find these in the office supply section of just about any store for around $5.
- Compact and portable
- Cute designs
- Great for a beginner
- You have to cut all of your coupons every week, sort them by category and go through regularly to pull the expired coupons to ensure your organizer is up to date
- Can be too small to hold all of your coupons
A larger version of the coupon organizer, this method is not meant to be portable. This is a good method for someone who is short on time. Make a folder for each month. Each week when the sunday paper comes, date the front of the coupon inserts with the date of the Sunday paper they came in and file them under the correct month in your file. If you get a store coupon book, file it under the month you in which you got it.
Then once a week or whenever you have time, sit down and check the weekly coupon matchups, find the coupons and only clip what you need. For example, if the coupon for a sale item was in the 4/17 SmartSource (insert), you go to your April section of your file, pull out the 4/17 SS insert, and clip the coupon. You can also use a spare section for local coupons, such as coupons to local restaurants, oil changes, etc.
You can find these in the office supply section as well for around $10.
- Time Efficient
- Neat and orderly - no coupons or inserts lying around
- Only clip the coupons you need
- You don't have your coupons with you for spontaneous shopping trips.
Finally, the coupon binder:
It's a large version of the Coupon organizer. You have ALL of your coupons in this binder.
- All of your coupons are in once place
- Holds a large amount of coupons
- Binder is large, not very portable to keep with you all the time
- Holds a large amount of coupons - can get unorganized/hard to find a coupon
- You have to cut ALL of your coupons to put them in the binder.
When I say you have to cut ALL of your coupons, I mean cut ALL of your coupons (or save the entire insert.) When you become a couponer, you'll find yourself buying and trying brands you never thought you would. And if it's something you can't use, but can get it for free or close to free with coupons, buy it and donate it.
My preferred organization method is a combination of the organizer and expandable file. I have all of the clipped coupons in the organizer from before I started using the file method. I also keep loose coupons, such as those given to me, internet printables, those that come attached to products, in samples or from the coupon dispensers in the organizer also, along with coupons I know I will ABSOLUTELY use. I also keep tabs for each store and put the coupons in there that I plan on using at that particular store for my next shopping trip.
Questions? Comments? How do you organize your coupons?
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